Thursday, October 11, 2007

National Coming Out Day 2007

I don't really feel like telling my whole coming out story right now (on accounta it's late and I just got done telling it to real live people), but I wanted to have a post to mark the occasion.

So here's the abbreviated version: I've been out and proud (and scared and exhausted and...) since April 30, 1997. For those of you who didn't throw a giant party that day, you may not remember that April 30, 1997 was the airing of the infamous "Puppy Episode" of Ellen - the one where she finally admitted what her mullet had confirmed so many years earlier. I gathered some members of my overwhelmingly Christian campus community together to "Come Out with Ellen" and announced to about twenty people (including some I didn't know) that I was gay. And despite occasional fear and frequent discomfort, especially in those early years, I've pretty much never looked back.

To celebrate my tenth (!) National Coming Out Day, here's a list of people I'd like to thank for helping me along the way:

1)MonkeyPants - I couldn't have made this journey without her love and support and patience and nurturing and humor and laughter and cute face propping me up. One set of footprints and all that. She's the perfect one for me. It's just rules.

2)My amazing family - they've taken MonkeyPants in as one of their own and have given us so much monetary and emotional support over the last twelve years that it's sort of not fair. I usually don't feel like I deserve to have gotten so lucky. Plus, my sister, who is five years younger than I am and grew up in the same small and closed-minded town I did, got a rainbow tattoo on her back when she was sixteen to show her support. How fucking cool is that?

3)PJK - my counselor at college who was the first person to ever hear me come out. She helped me negotiate some very rough transitions and very possibly helped save my life. And she certainly inspired me to pursue a career working with college students. And to top it all off, she performed our commitment ceremony. And wrote me a letter of recommendation to graduate school. She really couldn't get much cooler.

4)Terri - one of the few souls at college who embraced me exactly as I was. She was the first true ally I had.

5)Jess C. - the first woman I knew who wore her hairy legs confidently. She'll probably never know what an impact that had on me.

6)Bobbi and Rachel - the first gay couple we were truly friends with. They accept and love us unconditionally and have been so important in our lives. We're truly lucky to have crossed paths with them.

7)My graduate department - they provided the first true "safe space" for me and helped me find my voice. And then they gave me a degree. And a job. And then they gave my mom a job. So they're pretty much tops in my book.

8)The afore-mentioned Ellen - she took a huge risk - and paid a huge price for it - by being honest and declaring and defending her gayness. She was the first celebrity I ever saw come out of the closet (some had just always been out, some were outed by others...and some just weren't on my radar at that time). She was a huge inspiration for me and helped nudge me onto my path. I probably could have done it without her inspiration, but I don't know if I would have.

9)All the other people who have walked with me on this journey - there are many. I'll probably remember eleven of them as soon as I log off. I hope they all know who they are. And that they're not mad that I forgot them.

Anyway, happy Coming Out Day, everyone! And thanks for lettin' me be me.

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